7.2.15 JCSBW GUEST COLUMN CONTEST!!

JCSBW GUEST COLUMN CONTEST!!

Introducing JCSBW’s “Jeffco Community Supports the Recall Guest Column Contest! (Non-‘Union Operative’ Version)”

Why? Recently, Lisa Pinto, former Communications Director and political appointee for Jeffco Schools, proclaimed on radio that the recall can only be the work of union operatives, also implying that opposition to the recall can only stem from the teachers’ union. WNW’s sycophants at Jeffco Students First keep mindlessly parroting the same talking points too. Clearly they either lack good data about the opposition, or have too much of an active imagination. Time to both get serious and have some fun with this.

Who? Open to all Jeffco community members, except for Jeffco staff. Sorry teachers and other Jeffco staff; we’ll give you a turn later, and we do encourage you to keep submitting to Jeffco Exodus in the meantime. Contact us if you are a teacher but not a member of JCEA.

What? We are seeking submissions of between 100 and 300 words that include two things. First, you should convey that you’re not a member of JCEA, and that you don’t have any particularly close ties to it. Second, tell Jeffco why you support the recall in a few simple points. We will publish up to 10 throughout the coming months. Posting will be completely at our discretion.

When? Submissions must be received by August 1.

How? Submit to JeffcoOpportunity@gmail.com. We will do only light editing; any heavy editing will be returned to you for final approval. We understand the paralyzing fear out there, so your name may be included or kept anonymous at your discretion, but please be sure to let us know if you are a parent or community member and the general part of Jeffco (north, south, central, mountains) where you reside. We will not share your identity with anyone without your permission.

6.22.15 Late June Jeffco Teacher Negotiations Update

I can no longer tolerate the actions/policies of this school board.  I have accepted a job teaching at Monarch High School.

– Chuck Stephen, former Lakewood HS band & orchestra teacher

From the beginning of negotiations with the district, our Teacher Association, JCEA, has been seeking stability and certainty.  The best way to have a highly qualified teacher in a classroom is to have a career path for teachers that encourages them to develop their skills, live in their communities in which they teach, and impact the “whole child.”  This includes not just teaching core subjects, but also electives, clubs, sports, and more.  To that end, the association has been negotiating in good faith since March with designated district staff.  Little progress had been made until recently due to uncertainty over budgets. Now that that has been settled (through another 3-2 vote by our WNW triad of doom), here are some salient points:

  • Teachers with less than or 6 years of experience will receive a pay bump so that their salaries are in line with a new salary schedule for new hires that increases starting pay to $38K and increases 2% a year. Details can be found here.
  • Master’s degrees previously earned after 2012, but not compensated for will be caught up.
  • Hard to fill positions will get some additional money to aid hiring.
  • All other employees will see an approximately 1% increase, depending on their performance rating.

This plan is ONLY in place for the 2015-2016 school year, and there is no agreement on anything else going forward.  As for the certainty that the association is seeking, there is still none.

Now that negotiations are down to four scheduled days (June 29-July 2), it is looking increasingly likely that no agreement will be reached unless more days are added to negotiations.  Many of the open items are the ones that impact whether teachers have certainty in their future career options in Jeffco, such as:

  • District-proposed contract expiration of June 30, 2016, an echo of DougCo’s plan to crush their association.
  • No salary schedule or compensation plan beyond the 2015-16 school year.
  • No agreed-upon plan regarding how school principals will decide about displacement if staffing needs to change.
  • No plan for the use of buildings by the association, or even for the role of a JCEA president.
  • Completely open-ended questions on education of the “whole child,” electives, counselors, librarians, etc.
  • Class sizes (which, of course is a big budget driver)

Chalkbeat has posted many of the documents being negotiated, with “red line” versions available too (scroll past the first part of the article to view them).

Given that the board’s plan was to negotiate from a blank sheet of paper, they have done a good job of making clear their priorities. Their only priority seemingly was, up to a week ago, to get their new hire salary schedule approved.  Now that they have gotten what they wanted, it is clear that any other contract terms are going to be hard-fought for the association.

If we want teachers to not quit the district (more 600 last year, and more than 700 already this year), we need a contract that gives them reasons to stay, with reasons including everything from salary to professional development to respect for what they do for the community.  It is in the interest of the community to have happy teachers because they’re working environment is the student’s learning environment.  The association has repeatedly made clear their desire for a contract is NOT to protect bad teachers.  That is a red herring that has NO basis in facts on the ground.  Watch the negotiations if you have time, so you can see for yourself.


 

Keep fighting, JeffCo!

5.22.2015 Clear your Tuesday calendar

We know that many of you, like us, are deep in the glut of end-of-school concerts and activities, but things are heating up just in time for Tuesday’s board meeting. Here’s a brief summary of what’s been going on the last couple of weeks.

May 7 – The BOE majority votes to move $15 million from the budget “underspend” (dollars that aren’t already allocated) all for a new school in the NW Arvada area. The problem? There are many. Among them: $15 million is still $10 million short of the amount the district estimated for a K-8 school in the area. In addition, the vote puts less into district reserves than originally planned, and crushes all other options for those dollars. District staff had recommended the $13.5 million be distributed to teacher compensation, students, facilities and reserves. For more details about that discussion, check out the Jeffco Schools Examiner story.

Witt also targeted a high school student for the “crime” of clicking the favorite button on a tweet that came from the parody @notlisapinto Twitter account. During the meeting, which went way into the wee hours of May 8, he said he would not meet with Jeffco Students for Change because he claimed that their leader had favorited a Facebook post that contained a racial epithet aimed at a Jeffco staffer. Well, as it turns out, (1) it was Twitter, not Facebook, (2) there were no racial epithets, and (3) it’s a violation of board policy and probably a number of other laws to put the full name of a Jeffco student up on the screen in full view of the board room during the board meeting.

Angry? Us too, though we also wonder whether it was meant to be a distraction for what came next.

May 12 – The district’s new compensation plan was put on hold by a Jeffco judge, who ruled that the district may not pay new hires under that plan–at least if they were hired after May 1. It’s unclear what will happen to those hired between the decision and the May 1 date. For more details, check out Chalkbeat’s fine article.

May 18 – Jeffco refuses to host a bill signing for Governor John Hickenlooper at Lakewood High School, claiming that it would be too inconvenient with students taking finals and would create a security staff shortage (or something along those lines). So, hosting Katy Perry last year (an event early in the morning that the governor also attended, by the way) isn’t a problem, but a bill signing is. Please. We have amazing security experts in Jeffco. They would handle it fine–if only they’d been given the opportunity.

May 20 – Contract negotiations with JCEA took a turn, after the district realized it needs some plan to pay those new hires. Again, check out Chalkbeat for the details.

May 21 – Jeffco’s talks with JCEA stall. We’re sure you’re shocked. Not surprisingly, the district continues to maintain the position that they want to remain competitive for new hires, never mind the salary gap and the fact that our veteran teachers are not being recognized in any way for sticking with the district through the years of pay freezes. The JCEA Twitter feed is one among many that gives a feel for Thursday’s conversation, but you can also watch the video feed here or read the Chalkbeat article.

District officials blame the budget–and this is where your help is needed. The first hearing for the budget is this Tuesday, May 26 (note the date change!). It’s time to help the school board remember what its priorities should be: compensating our teachers fairly and focusing on the classroom. Instead, they’re claiming the budget is too small to give much if anything to veteran teachers, but that apparently isn’t stopping them from awarding a $5,236 raise to Chief Communication Officer Lisa Pinto.

Wait, you say? How is she getting a raise when she clearly has not proven to be a highly effective or even effective employee? Where’s the data that her position has improved student achievement–which is Witt’s usual rallying cry? Instead, she’s increased the amount of negative press that Jeffco has, including the May 19 Denver Post editorial by the criticizing the district’s refusal to allow the bill signing. Pinto didn’t make that call, but her response to the governor’s office was far from professional (as is any communication that begins with the phrase “for your information”). She is not effective and by Witt’s own rules, does not deserve a raise until she becomes effective. We’re still waiting.

If you don’t like what’s going on, it’s time to speak up. Sign up for public comment here (and if you do, plan for public commented to be shortened to 1 minute for individuals). Can’t make it to the meeting? Write the board at board@jeffco.k12.co.us, and mark off June 11, which is the date of the second budget hearing.

Finally we’re sorry to report that Lesley Dahlkemper will not run for her seat again this November. She made that announcement on her Facebook page on May 3. But all is not lost, as Jeffco parent Amanda Stevens will run for that seat. Amanda has been a strong voice for our students at board meetings, and we hope you will like her Facebook page and support her in every way possible through the coming months.

Keep fighting, Jeffco!

We cannot give up now.


 

2.25.15 – BOE Feb. 19 meeting notes

UpdateAs noted in the pre-meeting agenda commentary, there was a lot going on at this board meeting. Some of these topics will be addressed again at the March 5 regular board meeting, though it’s not clear what direction the board will take on any of them.

Agenda Item 2:01 Jefferson Articulation Area Plan
This was the first of three times where Superintendent Dan McMinimee praised the presentation group. His opening accolades of the work by the six principals on the team sent a clear message that the Board should seriously consider approving this plan.

The discussion was lengthy, outlining the plans that will impact Jefferson High School, Wheat Ridge 5-8, Edgewater Elementary, Lumberg Elementary, Stevens Elementary, Molholm Elementary, and Everitt MS. If approved, Stevens Elementary will move to the Wheat Ridge 5-8 campus, and the district is proposing moving Sobesky Academy out of its aging building to the Stevens campus. The presentation team, consisting of the principals from each of the schools, fielded the board’s questions with welcomed exuberance. They even surveyed students about the plan, using a statistical rating system for students, parents and teachers that rated their degree of acceptance of these impacts. The mantra became “I’m very excited!”

A key concern about adding 7th and 8th graders to Jefferson High School deals with their safety. These fears were addressed with diagrams of the school layout that essentially creates a school within a school, separating the younger students from the older ones most of the day.

Following the presentation, Jill Fellman asked what Wheat Ridge 5-8 Principal Warren Blair meant when he said they might need to request “Innovation Status.” Blair said while it would not be likely, they didn’t want to shut that door and wanted to be completely transparent with the community. A request for that status requires collaboration with the school community, JCEA and the BOE. Examples of items they might consider, for example, include waiver that might allow them to expand the school day or add teaching training time beyond the contract. Blair also pointed out any principal can start the Innovation Status process at any time, but it is a collaborative process that must take place with staff, community and BOE input.

John Newkirk questioned a plan that was put forward in 2006 of a similar nature and wanted to know why that did not work and how this plan was different? It was explained that former plan was for a K-8 school and not relevant to this situation.

Another major area of concern was the impact on moving Sobesky Academy, a special school that serves Jeffco students with severe emotional disabilities. Currently, Sobesky is in a building from the 1940s that is too small to accommodate the entire district population, and which also has safety code issues. Board members praised the program but expressed concern that these students may have a longer bus ride to the proposed new location on the current Stevens Elementary campus.

Lesley Dahlkemper urged more community input and the team outlined plans to incorporate parents in both summer and beginning of the year orientations. The principals were very honest in saying there is still much work to do but they cannot move forward without Board approval at the March meeting. The unified principal team was a major selling point for board members.

Agenda Item 2.01: Interest Based Bargaining Overview
This was an overview of the bargaining system that the district has used for a number of years. Dennis Dougherty, facilitator, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services, explained the process step by step to the board:

1) Define the Issue
2) Share Interests
3) Generate Options
4) Evaluate Options
5) Craft Solutions

He continually reiterated that if either side comes to the table with a solution rather than a proposal, the IBB process would not work. He also described in detail the pre-preparation that involves team training and even the room arrangement for the discussion of the topics. The bottom line is that in order for this to work, the following needs to happen:

1) Trust between parties
2) Buy-in by everyone
3) Commitment by all members
4) Openness to options and alternatives.

Members of JCEA offered their view of the process and why they think IBB best bargaining method. At the end of the discussion, Ken Witt said he trusted his negotiating team to figure out the best method. He refused to allow questions or comments from other board members, stating that it was merely a training session. Dahlkemper in turn, insisted on her right to speak and added her own favorable impression of the process from when Jeffco Schools and JCEA have used IBB in the past.

Agenda Item 2.03: Teacher Licensure Process: Alternative Programs
Currently, there are nine teachers in the district — seven in charter schools — that have an alternative license. Basically this means the individual has a bachelor’s degree and has passed a content area test.

It was hard to gauge exactly where this conversation was headed except for this question by Newkirk, “Are we using Teach for America?” Jeffco does not use TFA, in part because TFA was originally organized to fill teacher shortages in inner cities. Jeffco Chief Human Resources Director Amy Weber also pointed out that historically, Jeffco has had a rich pool from which to hire teachers. Hmmm.

Julie Williams asked about Warren Tech. It was explained that Warren Tech falls into a different category and does not require an alternative license. Some of the Warren Tech instructors qualify for vocational certification, which allows them to teach using their area of expertise.

Williams also wanted to draw a comparison of highly effective teachers in our public schools compared to those in our charter schools. Weber very pointedly explained that we can’t compare highly effective teachers to charter schools because the charter schools are waved from a form of evaluation that would rate them. Cha Ching! Witt wants more information on this issue.

Agenda Item 2.04 Student Based Budgeting Update
There are plenty of questions to ask on this subject. This was a very detailed presentation explaining the formula for determining the amount of money a school receives to follow-through on their own budget planning.

This presentation team began by explaining the old-central office approach of allocation vs. local school control of academic funds. There point was the “once size fits all” did not’ work. During the presentation, sometimes it was confusing to know which funds belonged to the individual school and which monetary role still belonged to central office.

Fellman raised concerns that Jeffco’s sense of community could be undermined as each school has autonomy, and that the district might miss out on efficiencies of scale if schools are making individual purchases of supplies, textbooks and other programs. Dahlkemper brought up the concern that some schools will choose to drop their kindergarten program if they do not have enough kids. There were also concerns about whether the system could be “gamed.”

For example, could a school that wanted to expand its art classes cut back on music classes to do so? The answer is that no, each school has a strict set of guidelines they have to follow cutting back on any of the three elementary-mandated “specials” would not be allowed.

Many of the rules are linked to the current JCEA contract, and the big money question is what could happen regarding those restrictions should the contract not be renewed.

When Williams asked how this was going to impact the at risk or special needs students, the presenters pointed out that under this system, because of Federal funds to those groups, they may actually have more money to spend on services.

It’s also having an impact on full-day kindergarten in Jeffco. This deserves a much longer post. For now, suffice it to say that the number of schools offering free FDK is dropping from 40 Jeffco Schools to 26/31. Why the split number? Of the 31, 5 are schools that anticipate their entire kindergarten population will qualify for free FDK as free- and reduced-lunch children. The other 26 are using SBB dollars to provide free FDK. The rest will charge the $300/month number that has been set by the district as the kindergarten fee. This deserves a separate post and we will address it again in the following weeks.

Another big question: Will schools opt to get rid of an expensive teacher to hire two less expensive teachers? The current answer is no, an average salary is assumed for all teachers. What that seems to mean is that staffing for teachers is not being done by real dollar amounts, at least this year. It was a question that surfaced repeatedly.

Our best understanding is that, for example, a K-6 school with two classrooms per grade would state they needed 14 full-time teachers, and that in the current SBB system, the district would translate that as a standard money amount, regardless of whether that school’s specific teachers are more or less experienced. Any “shortage” would be made up by the fact that at other schools, some teachers are less experienced and lower on the pay scale, so it all works out at the district level—hence the “average salary.” McMinimee said he didn’t want schools to be in a position of choosing quality over quantity. It should be interesting to see how it plays out this year.

What quietly was pointed out near the end of this discussion is that under SBB, $2 million is being transferred from high schools to elementary schools to help balance out larger elementary class sizes. Chief School Effectiveness Officer Terry Elliot explained that most high school teachers were not at the high end of their daily student count whereas a lot of elementary schools are seeing classes of 28-33 students. (There was speculation on Twitter that this was only happening in areas of new development, but that’s not the case. Many of us know multiple elementary schools that are seeing extremely large class sizes even at the K-2 levels all over the district.)

What it will mean is staff cuts at the high school. This process is a radical change and it may still be too early to measure the positive and/or negative outcomes. We need to hear from the impacted staff.

Agenda Item 2.05: Classroom Dashboard Update
Four million dollars later…and? When the presenters themselves infer that this is its own “story”, it is not surprising that some of the Board questions were digging at the past history and the money trail. Superintendent McMinimee was smart to meet Witt’s question head on when Witt, the self-proclaimed “tech guy” began to question the character of the vender, LoudCloud. McMinimee flatly stated that Witt was correct and the vendor was essentially not doing his job. He made it very clear that Jeffco and vendor are back on track.

The Board members seemed to be expecting an immediate roll out of the program (Aren’t we all?) but Dashboard is still in the design stage with bits and pieces coming together. The first pilot started in January and includes 15 schools, but many of the components of Dashboard are not up and running …yet. With so much money already invested, this seems to be a wait and see. What the Board did request is an outline of security measures for this program.

Agenda Item 2:06 Alameda Facilities Plan Update
“Are you not as excited about this as Jefferson High School or are you just tired because it is so late?” Williams asked presenters about the Alameda Plan during the presentation. The reply from Alameda Principal Susie Van Scoyk was, “It’s late.”

Yet, this plan to move Stein Elementary students to O’Connell and grades 7 & 8 to Alameda High School was not presented with nearly the same enthusiasm as the Jefferson group with their plan. It was clear in the presentation that this Alameda High School change is a tougher sell to the community, students and staff than the Jefferson Articulation plan was to their community.

Elliot provided a detailed plan that showed that the planners are trying to allay the concerns of parents with the middle school/high school merge. Alameda will use staggered schedules and lunch times as just two example of keeping the middle school students away from the upper classmen. The key here for the change is about Stein Elementary. It was presented as the best option to help this elementary school.

Also of note: an expansion to Stein Elementary was part of the failed 2008 bond package. Expanding the school now is out of the question because there are too many temporary buildings and because there’s no place to otherwise put the children while expansion might take place. Is there a lesson worth noting here?

Don’t let them forget we’re watching, and keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

2/18 POST – WE’RE BACK! AND MEETING PREP

NoCompromise

That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.

— Noam Chomsky

JCSBW readers, we’re happy to be back and back strong with a new plan to keep the posts rolling out.

And with that, it’s time for BOE Thursday Meeting Prep:

When: Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 5:30 pm.

Where: 5th Floor Board Room, Education Center, 1829 Denver West Drive, Bldg. 27, Golden

(If you cannot attend, please watch the live video stream at: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/10429076/events/3542310 Also, please let Jeffco Schools and us know if you have trouble with the live stream. We know several people who have been unable to watch the stream. In some cases the stream pauses every 5 seconds, and in others there is video or audio, but never both.)

Overall Comments: There’s a lot going on at this special meeting. Two articulation area plans are on the agenda, as is an introduction to Interested based Bargaining (IBB), a discussion of alternative teacher licensure, employee negotiations, student based budgeting and even a classroom dashboard update. (Remember the classroom dashboard? It’s been a while since we’ve heard about it.) This is an important meeting that will expose more of WNW’s plans for the district.

Key Agenda Items

Agenda Item 2.01: Jefferson Articulation Area Plan (EL-11)

Type: Discussion, Information

PRESENTING STAFF: Terry Elliott, chief school effectiveness officer; Warren Blair, principal, Wheat Ridge 5-8; Celeste Sultze, principal, Edgewater Elementary; Rhonda Hatch-Rivera, principal, Lumberg Elementary; Heather Stewart, principal, Stevens Elementary; John D’Orazio, principal, Molholm Elementary; Michael James, principal, Jefferson High School

PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to be provided an update on the developments of the Jefferson Area Plan, for the articulation area schools in the 2015/2016 school year to support increased student achievement and opportunities.

BACKGROUND: Over the last few months, a group of dedicated school leaders have been talking, visioning, and researching strategies to enhance achievements and post-secondary options for our valued students in the Jefferson articulation area.  To address student achievement, student retention, program options and to improve state performance ratings for all schools, the Jefferson articulation principals developed an improvement plan framework focused on building stronger alignment of resources to address the environmental factors impacting the area’s K-12 student population.  The framework was designed to gather staff and community input in order to develop a Jefferson Area Plan with the first phase being implemented for the 2015-2016 school year.

An update on this plan was presented to the Board of Education at the January 15 regular business meeting.

Our Comments: The plan put forward here by the principals is a means of being pro-active in addressing the environmental factors that are impacting educational outcomes for students in the community. By moving forward with a plan, the principals are claiming ownership of the problem and solutions.

Including more teacher and parent input in this beginning process would present a stronger case to the Board and community that this is a feasible venture and needs to be considered in the planning. This plan needs to be owned by the community to definitely avoid a top-down decision from the Board that might fit another agenda.

Agenda Item 2.02: Negotiations: Interest Based Bargaining Overview (EL-4, 11)

Type: Discussion

PRESENTING STAFF: Dennis Dougherty, facilitator, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services; JCEA Bargaining Team member(s); Karen Jones, principal secretary, Columbine High School, CSEA Bargaining Team; Amy Weber, chief human resources officer

 PURPOSE:  For the Board of Education to receive the requested training on Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) as Jeffco begins negotiations with JCEA and CSEA.

BACKGROUND: Negotiations are typically conducted either through traditional bargaining or Interest Based Bargaining (IBB). For multiple years, Jeffco’s negotiating teams have used IBB. The facilitator who has worked with the JCEA negotiating teams for the past several years will provide an overview on IBB to the Board, and members of the negotiating team will share their insights as to the process.

Attachments: coming soon

Our Comments: Interest Based Bargaining is a joint approach to problem solving. By starting with an understanding of the issues and pinpointing the concerns that affect each side’s positions, IBB helps identify common views, goals, etc. of both sides.  It is defined as:

A negotiating strategy in which both sides start with declarations of their interests instead of putting forward proposals, and work to develop agreements that satisfy common interests and balance opposing interests. Interest-based bargaining is also called integrative or win-win bargaining. 

Interest-based bargaining goes by a host of names such as “consensus bargaining,” “problem-solving negotiations,” “win-win,” “mutual gains,” “collaborative bargaining,” “principled negotiations,” and others. Effective IBB includes:

  • Sharing relevant information is critical for effective solutions.
  • Focusing on issues, not personalities.
  • Focusing on the present and future, not the past.
  • Focusing on the interests underlying the issues.
  • Focusing on mutual interests, and helping to satisfy the other party’s interests as well as your own.
  • Options developed to satisfy those interests should be evaluated by objective criteria, rather than power or leverage.

The leadership style of the Board majority thus far has not demonstrated a leaning towards  “collaborative bargaining” as they have block voted on many issues not comfortable with the Board minority, teachers and/or community members. 

Whatever their interest in IBB, we suspect that WNW are hatching a plan to make the teachers look bad whatever choice(s) they make so that they can cut the contract. Their plans are likely orchestrated to wind up with that result no matter what approach JCEA takes.

If we’re right, then this is all window dressing.  All this despite the fact that there’s no data to support increased student achievement without the presence of a unified voice for teachers.” The reaction to the teachers’ discussion of the IBB process at this meeting will deliver a clear message of the Board majority’s intent for negotiations.

We will also note that JCEA and the BOE used IBB last year too, which begs several questions regarding why WNW are just now choosing to familiarize themselves with IBB.

 Agenda Item 2.03: Teacher Licensure Process: Alternative Programs (EL-11)

Type: Discussion

PRESENTING STAFF: Amy Weber, chief human resources officer; Karie Yenter, employment services manager

PURPOSE: The Board of Education requested a discussion on teacher licensure and alternative programs.

BACKGROUND: Teachers working in Jeffco’s neighborhood and alternative education schools must be licensed by the state to be hired as teachers. Additionally, they must be highly qualified in their content area.  Teachers working at our charter schools are not required to hold a teaching license, provided that the district submits licensure waivers. They are, however, required to hold a bachelor’s degree and meet content requirements.  All special education teachers and providers serving all our schools, including charters, must hold a state license. There are no waivers for these categories of staff.  Colorado provides a mechanism for teachers to obtain a license through alternative licensure pathways.

Attachments: Alternative Teacher Licensure Feb 19

Our Comments: The fact that this is on this meeting’s agenda suggests that WNW are already looking into alternatives to replace the hoards of teachers likely to flee after they cut ties with the union. As they’ve made repeatedly clear, they place more trust in untested individuals who have been doing anything other than teaching than they do in the trained and experienced professionals who have dedicated years of their life to being excellent teachers.

Agenda Item 2.04: Student Based Budgeting Update (EL-11)

Type: Information

PRESENTING STAFF: Kathleen Askelson, chief financial officer and Terry Elliott, chief school effectiveness officer

PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to receive an update on the 2015/2016 budget development process for school sites.

BACKGROUND: The Board of Education received an overview of the Student Based Budgeting (SBB) process initiative implemented by former CFO Lorie Gillis for the 2015/2016 school year.  The Board requested an update on SBB following the submission of budgets from the participating schools.  The discussion will provide details on the process and insights from the initial review of submitted school budgets.

Attachments: Coming soon.

Our Comments: District staff are already talking about the “second iteration” of SBB when addressing schools (or at least when talking to the schools who were about to have their school psychologist or social worker dropped to half time), so it should be interesting to see what issues they are already addressing in the first iteration.

We would also like to hear them address why items such as instructional coaches—who were supposed to be paid for through the 2012 3A mill levy override funds, are now an option schools can choose to fund (or not) in SBB.

Agenda Item 2.05: Classroom Dashboard Update (EL-11)

Type: Information

PRESENTING STAFF: Dr. Syna Morgan, chief academic officer; Brett Miller, chief information officer; Mary Beth Bazzanella, director, Educational Technology; Curtis Lee, director, Data Quality/Education Technology

PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to receive an update on the status of the Classroom Dashboard project. 

BACKGROUND: The Board of Education requested an update on the status of the Classroom Dashboard project. The presentation will provide information on the work completed to date and next steps.

Attachments: 0219 Classroom Dashboard BOE Update.pdf

Our Comments: It’s been a while since we’ve heard about the Classroom Dashboard. As a reminder, the previous board voted to cut ties with inBloom in November 2013, and the plan was that the district would move ahead with an in-house version of the dashboard—a move that would be more costly and take more time, but which was thought to alleviate many of the concerns about data privacy and security. 

Nelson Garcia of 9News recently did a story on the dashboard — a $600,000 project. When he contacted Jeffco, officials refused to answer any of his questions. We think Nelson’s wording was deliberate. Typically, journalists will state that a person or organization “did not respond to questions” if they were unable to get a response, but save “refused to answer questions” for situations in which a person specifically said they were not going to answer questions.

Is the district moving ahead? Are WNW trying to bury the project so it never sees the light of day?

Agenda Item 2.06: Alameda Facilities Plan Update (EL-11)

Type: Information

PRESENTING STAFF: Terry Elliott, chief school effectiveness officer; Susie Van Scoyk, principal, Alameda International High School; Jennifer Kirksey, principal, O’Connell Middle School; Samantha Salazar, principal, Stein Elementary School

PURPOSE: To provide the Board of Education an overview and update on the developments of the proposed solution to the facilities needs in the Alameda articulation area.

BACKGROUND: In order to meet the growing enrollment pressures in the Alameda articulation area, which have been reviewed by the Board, a proposal was developed by staff to create an additional elementary campus.  This move would utilize the current Alameda International High School campus to become a 7-12 campus with three wings (7-8, 9-10, 11-12) enabling the creation of a new elementary school on the site of the current O’Connell Middle School.  This would alleviate the over capacity issues at Stein, Deane and Lasley elementary schools and provide additional room for future growth in the area.

Attachments: coming soon.

Our Comments: This is primarily an attempt to address overcrowding at Stein without bothering with such pesky things as a school expansion or building new schools. Significant concerns regarding keeping 7th and 8th graders safe were expressed when this topic was discussed at the January meeting.

Agenda Item 2.07: Employee Negotiations (EL-4, -11)

Type: Discussion

PRESENTING STAFF: Jim Branum, attorney, Caplan and Earnest; Amy Weber, chief human resources officer; Craig Hess, chief legal counsel and executive director of Employee Relations; Steve Bell, chief operating officer

PURPOSE: The Board will continue discussions with the district negotiating team.

BACKGROUND: On January 15, the Board of Education adopted the resolution requesting the commencement of good faith negotiations for a successor agreement with the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA) and optional proposals with the Classified School Employees Association (CSEA).  Under Colorado law, school board discussions regarding employee contracts must be conducted in open session (except under specific circumstances).

Attachments: 2015 115 Att A reso Good Faith Negotiations.pdf

Our Comments: Preliminary discussions about negotiations have been anything but cordial so far. WNW have questioned interested based bargaining (see above), are insisting that the meetings be streamed and recorded (without editing…apparently they suspect that the streaming issues reported by others are subtle attempts to edit the stream as opposed to an actual tech problem?), and oddly, given their concern about then number of employed people who cannot attend negotiations during the day (including teachers!), voted for a mix of days, evenings, and weekends.

WNW are also strongly leaning toward jettisoning Facilitator Dennis Dougherty of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services because Dougherty has stated he will not agree to stream or record the negotiations. If they move forward with this plan, a facilitator will cost Jeffco taxpayers as much as $800-$1,200 per day, for upwards of $20,000 depending on how many days the negotiations take.

Predictably, Williams’ response to the cost was that the expense would be worthwhile. (That was her response to the budget survey too. Expenses considered worthwhile by WNW: a $90,000 per year BOE lawyer, a $10,000 budget survey that many people are unhappy with, and $20,000 for contract negotiations that will accomplish nothing unless WNW agree to negotiation in good faith—unlike last year.)

Agenda Item 2.09: Board Retreat

Type: Discussion

PRESENTING STAFF: none.

PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to discuss its retreat scheduled for February 28.
BACKGROUND: The Board has set aside the morning of February 28 to hear from individuals regarding school configuration and innovation in k-12 education.

Our Comments: The retreat was originally Julie Williams’ suggestion, because she wanted to know what education innovations in the 21st century looked like before approving $80 million in Certificates of Participation to build traditional schools in rapidly-growing parts of Jeffco.

 At the BOE’s Feb. 5 meeting, we learned that Steve House, who’s running to be the Colorado Republican Party Chair, will be one of the individuals talking about innovation in K-12 education. Jill Fellman and Lesley Dahlkemper questioned the choice, asking what experience had had in education. House’s experience includes a failed bid for the 2014 gubernatorial election and a long career involving IT, sales and healthcare technology. He is currently a healthcare consultant, according to Linkedin.

We don’t see any evidence of experience with K-12 at all, and questions by Fellman and Dahlkemper also failed to explain why a single minute of the retreat should be devoted to this speaker. Of note: he is a 2010 graduate of the Leadership Program of the Rockies.

When Dahlkemper asked Witt, “Who is the educator on this list,” Witt’s response was, “These are perspectives on education.” The other WNW speaker is Tony Lewis, the executive director of the Donnell-Kay Foundation, a supporter of school reform and school privatization efforts. After a long discussion, it was suggested that two others might be included to balance the discussion. Scott Fast and a representative from Job Creators Network were added to the retreat agenda. Perhaps Thursday’s discussion will shed more light on their motivations for choosing House and Lewis.

Let’s Keep Fighting, JeffCo!